OVER one in three Scots are being put off switching from petrol to electric vehicles by the upfront costs, according to new research.
The shock figures come as the Scottish Government in a bid to meet tough carbon emission targets said it was banning the sale of all new petrol and diesel cars and vans in less than ten years.
The revised version of 2018’s climate change plan brought forward the ban from 2032 to 2030, alongside more than 100 other policies to help the nation meet its emissions reduction targets.
They include a commitment to cut the total number of kilometres driven by Scots by 20 per cent within 10 years, partly by making it easier for people to walk and cycle instead The plan followed the setting of legally binding climate change targets by the Scottish Government of cutting emissions by 75 per cent by 2030 and to net-zero by 2045.
According to figures for 2019, the Scottish Government has again missed its climate targets.
But a new survey by the consumer organisation Which? found that while 37% of Scots consumers are open to switching to electric cars, an identical proportion (37%) said they were put off by the upfront cost.
The analysis also reveals it could take drivers up to a decade to recoup their extra initial outlay – adding to concerns on off-putting costs.
It comes as new data seen by the Herald shows that the increase in the rate of growth in the number of electric vehicles on the road in Scotland has been steady since the start of 2017 when there 7964 licensed electric cars on the road.
Department for Transport figures show that the number of electric vehicles on the road – including hybrids which still burn fuel – rose by 45% to 17,352 in the year to 2020 – after a 50% rise the year before.
In the year to the start of 2021 there was a 70% rise with 29,470 licensed cars on March 31.
Researchers looked at the cost of owning three vehicles that are available as petrol and electric versions – both the upfront cost and running expenses – and found that despite the potential low running cost of electric vehicles, it was still significantly more expensive to own the electric version over three years.
At £26,000, the Mini EV is almost £10,000 more expensive even with the government’s low-emission vehicles grant than the Mini One, which costs £16,605.
Although the Mini One and Mini EV are not fully like-for-like, with the latter boasting superior equipment and performance, they both represent the cheapest petrol and electric models from the brand.
Taking into account tax breaks and lower fuel and servicing costs, the consumer organisation found the cost of running the Mini EV over three years stood at £1,827 compared to £4,418 for the Mini One – a £2,591 difference. Researchers calculated it would take just over a decade to recoup the almost £10,000 upfront price difference between the two models.
It was a similar story when the researchers analysed the cost of owning the petrol and electric versions of two Peugeot models.
With the government’s grant on electric cars, the initial upfront cost of the Peugeot e-2008 is £30,730, compared to £24,115 for its petrol counterpart the Peugeot 2008 (Active) PureTech 130 EAT8 – a more than £6,000 difference.
A calculation of the three-year running cost, which included fuel, tax and service, would be £2,003 for the e-2008, while the 2008 (Active) Puretech 130 would set motorists back £4,176 – a £2,173 saving for the electric version.
The researchers found that while it is cheaper to run the electric version over three years, overall it was more expensive to own due to the high upfront cost and it would take over eight years to compensate for the additional upfront cost of the electric Peugeot e-2008.
According to the Climate Change Committee, 12 million electric cars are expected to be on UK roads by 2030. Petrol and diesel cars will start to disappear from the market in the next few years as some manufacturers have said they will transition to selling only electric cars from as early as 2025.
Which said: “The mass adoption of electric cars is a key component of the government’s ambition to reach net-zero however the high cost of emission-free vehicles is deterring consumers and it is clear more support is needed to help consumers make sustainable decisions.”
Scotland’s climate change target plan promised that Scotland will “phase out” the need for new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030 at the same time as investing in charging points for electric vehicles.
It also pledged to reduce total car kilometres by 20 per cent by the same year, which it described as a “world leading aspiration” unmatched by any other country.
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It said persuading Scots to use their cars less often would require a national effort, with better digital connectivity and more flexible and remote working needed to cut commuting.
Lisa Barber, Which’s home products and service editor, said: “Millions of people are expected to switch to electric cars over the next few years to reduce emissions, however our research shows that affordability is a significant barrier and the upfront cost of purchasing an electric vehicle is putting people off.
“We know consumers want to make more sustainable choices and are open to switching to electric vehicles, but more support is needed to ensure they can feasibly make the decision to buy an electric car.”
The Scottish Government is so far failing to meet its target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Figures for 2019 show they fell 51.5% against the baseline, well short of the 55% target.
The statistics reveal Scotland’s land is no longer regarded as a “carbon sink” to soak up some carbon dioxide.
There is also an interim target to reduce emissions by 75% by 2030 which was beyond what the Climate Change Committee believed was feasible.
Greenhouse gases – like carbon dioxide and methane – accumulate in the atmosphere and are responsible for the planet warming.
In 2019, the equivalent of 47.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide was emitted in Scotland.
A Transport Scotland spokesperson said: “We’ve provided over £100 million to help people make the switch to electric vehicles through interest free loans. Last year, we expanded our Low Carbon Transport Loan to include used vehicles for the first time, so that more people are able to purchase EVs at a greater range of price points.
“In responding to the climate emergency, a net zero transport system isn’t simply a case of more electric vehicles. We want to encourage active and sustainable transport and reduce the need for more private cars too.
“That’s why, in addition to investing record amounts in active travel and bus infrastructure, we have funded registered social landlords and other organisations to procure the services of electric vehicle car clubs. This is enabling communities to access the benefits of modern electric vehicles in an affordable way, whilst reducing the need for individual car ownership.”